Multi-zone Sound System for Traditional Church, Part 1

How to put a very high tech sound and video system into a very old and traditional church, that was the job and AVE was called in by the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis to do just that 7/05/2012 6:52 AM Eastern

Multi-zone Sound System for Traditional Church, Part 1

Jul 5, 2012 10:52 AM, With Bennett Liles

Multi-zone Sound System for Traditional Church, Part 1 Listen to the Podcasts

Part 1 | Part 2

Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

How to put a very high tech sound and video system into a very old and traditional church, that was the job and AVE was called in by the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis to do just that. Kevin Crow of AVE his here with the story on how it all got done, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Kevin, it’s great to have you with us on the SVC Podcast from Audio Video Electronics in, I believe, it’s Maple Grove, Minn.

Kevin Crow: Correct, that’s a suburb of the Twin Cities.

And the Westminster Presbyterian Church that we’re going to be talking about is in Minneapolis? - - - So tell me a little about your company first. What does Audio Video Electronics do? We are an integrated design and installation company that specializes in acoustics, sound, video and stage lighting systems. [Timestamp: 1:13]

And this was a pretty big job that you had at the Westminster Presbyterian Church. It looks like a potential collision between a very old church with lots of history and tradition and a very high tech new sound system to give them better speech intelligibility, streaming and other things. Tell me a little bit about the church.

Yeah, it’s very old. I think over a 100-year-old church, started out very small in the late 1800’s and then has grown and it’s been a very successful downtown church that attracts actually a lot of people that come from the entire twin cities. They had done a pretty large architectural renovation in the mid 90’s where they had done an update to their sound at that time. There was no video done at that time but after 17 years or whatever of sound technology changes and, in my opinion an improper loudspeaker placement, we had to come in and fix it. They were complaining of a lot of issues with speech intelligibility and mainly on their main floor area so it was a sound project and then because I approached the leadership about video streaming their services which they had never done before. They were very interested in that because they have so many members who want to be a part of the services remotely. A lot of people from up here vacation in the south in the winter and that kind of thing so they were very interested in the streaming capability. [Timestamp: 2:37]

You obviously had a big thing facing you in the way of acoustics. They wanted a whole audio system upgrade and you used the Danley Soundlabs SH-96 speaker right above the organ. That one sort of got my attention right at the beginning.

What has really transpired in my opinion, I have been doing AV for like 20 years and been doing sound systems since my partner and I, Stephen Svärd, started the company in 2001 timeframe I have been doing sound systems now for 11 years and what has changed the most in loud speaker technology is the ability to put direct sound right on the listeners ear and to do that there’s actually only a few different methods, there are rock n roll line arrays which are very large and hang very low and that would be like what you would see at a concert like a J array, some people call them that. They have great vertical control but they don’t have very good horizontal control so you can go with the column line array which, there are passive line arrays and then there are steerable column line arrays. We have a lot of experience with those so we’ve done some very substantial projects not just in the twin cities but in other parts of the country with column line arrays but there wasn’t a good position at Westminster for the main floor for a column line array so we end up doing a lot of Danley in a lot of projects because the Synergy Horn technology that Tom Danley invented is really revolutionary. What it does is it puts all of the drivers behind a horn in through very sophisticated crossover design and specific exit points within the horn. He’s able to get down to, well with the SH-96 that we used, down to about 100 Hz directional out of the box which is just completely unheard of ten years ago. Back in the day we had to use trap boxes two-way and three- way and we were always looking for the largest horn mouth possible because that’s how you get directivity out of a horn style loud speaker. The bigger the horn the more directivity you would get so a lot of like stadiums as a really good example, if you go in to look at a lot stadiums and maybe they have an older non-line array system they have very large horns. The problem with them is the crossover point on those horns is many times around 1,000 Hz so you’re not able to get down into the speech band of like a male spoken word. So at Westminster their biggest problem was the main floor and they were very, very concerned about anything hanging low, especially in front of the organ so the rock n roll line array was out, the column line array would not have worked because there wasn’t a good place to put it in there and typically we don’t like to put column line arrays behind an open microphone like a pulpit mic. So with the Danley we were able to get directivity and actually skip right over the pulpit mic and cover the main floor and we were able to put it above the organ vertically. So we also painted it to match the ceiling and all that stuff so it’s not just the Danley speaker that makes it all work we are using Lectrosonic’s Aspen DSP which has about the best gain sharing control that is available on the market. So the pulpit mic goes into that. We’ve got extensive EQ and processing going on with that particular microphone and of course tuning the system Stephen Svärd, my partner, he tuned that. He tunes all of our big systems and it was a very difficult thing to do in the set up and the tuning and it took many hours but we got it done and it sounds great on the main floor and they’re happy and that’s what counts so. [Timestamp: 6:12]

And how did you power the SH-96?

Yeah, that’s a great question. One of the things about Danley products it doesn’t matter if it’s the subs or the Synergy horn type loud speakers is they’re very power hungry so we have a ElectroVoice TG7 or a TG5, I forget which one, it’s just bridge mono and I think we’re hitting it with about 4,000 watts right now. So that because the SH-96 has a double 15 in it plus the mid range, I think it’s got four or five mid range drivers and it’s got the high frequency driver in the middle it’s just a extremely power hungry loud speaker so we had to use the ElectroVoice TG7 power at bridge model. [Timestamp: 6:54] OK and I know the balcony was probably an interesting situation, too so what did you do for the balcony sound?

The balcony was a little bit different whereas we had columns up there that we could use without putting flown loudspeakers for each section of the balcony we were able to do a passive column line array meaning that’s it’s not active, it doesn’t have amps and processing in it and it’s not digitally steerable. We didn’t need that, we didn’t need to go to that extent so we used the Community Entasys for that and we painted the column line arrays to match and they are on the left and right side of the second floor balcony at the front and they cover the entire balcony very well and we’re powering those actually with the churches QSC amps that we re-used from their old systems. So that’s how we’re covering the balcony. [Timestamps: 7:40]

I’ve seen those columns and it looks like you could put those just about anywhere.

You can’t put them behind an open microphone.

As far as being able to fit them in.

Right, right, exactly. So that’s really the thing that I think is very important to understand with sound systems is that all of the equipment, doesn’t matter what it is loudspeakers, processers, amps all it is really are tools in a toolbox and part of AV philosophy is integrity and we’re not going to force some brand into a space because of a reason that benefits only us. A great example of that are companies that overuse a specific manufacturer and they’ll force it into any project because they’re getting value added or VIR added in at the end of the year or they’re getting club marketing funds or something like that. That is not our philosophy we believe the best tools should be used for the client, period, and the column line arrays worked excellent for Westminster’s balcony the SCH-96 Danley is tilted so much to cover the main floor that there’s no way that it was going to cover the entire balcony so we had to figure out an alternative for that. The Community Entasys, what’s nice about it is we can paint them and we can match them up so we got a paint sample from this client and we had a professional painter that we’ve used many times with column line arrays, paint them to match the columns that are in the room and they’re almost invisible and again, that’s a big deal to a church like this that’s very liturgical that has a very high expectation not to see equipment as much as possible. [Timestamp: 9:12]

And you had some other areas you had to cover there, too. You had the under balcony area and the choir. How did you do those?

The voicing on a Danley loudspeaker is very similar to coax in a lot of ways so we like to pair up Phil speaker’s with Tannoy. So we use Tannoy I-7s and we used some smaller Tannoy’s like the DI series for the choir fill, etc. and we like them a lot because the voicing is very similar to a Danley and they sound great but we can also paint those as well which we did on some of them. [Timestamp: 9:46]

Now you mentioned using the existing QSC amps. Was any other existing gear used in the new system?

No actually, we used only their amps. We put in new power sequencing and put in new racks. The racks they had were not properly thermally vented so that’s another thing we added Middle Atlantic racks with thermal venting so that there’s a sensor in the racks when the racks heat up the fans spin up and then when the rack—when the equipment is turned off and eventually cools the fan stops automatically and Middle Atlantic makes a great product for that so. [Timestamp: 10:17]

Yeah, temp controlled fans is a really great thing somebody came up with.


So you also have iPad control integrated with this?

Right, so this is probably one of the things that the client likes the most and we love to do it because we can sit or walk anywhere in the room and listen and adjust sounds so Lectrosonics offers with their Aspen DSP processors a iPad app and we did all of the channels in the system, I believe there is in the range of 20 something, I mean there is 22 or something like that with wireless, pulpit, floor jacks, all the different microphones directly into the Aspen DSP. There is no mixer board at this church and then we also use the Aspen to split all of those audio channels into a record feed so we’re doing both, a sub mix for recording that we have on the iPad and we can also mix the house with the iPad. So benefit being, it’s very easy to use. There’s no big channel strip with gain knobs and EQ knobs on it like on a standard mixer. All of the EQ on each specific channel is locked down. They don’t have any access to that through the iPad. AVE as a standard saves a backup of all of our processor files on our server and it gets backed up all the time so we’re able to hot swap DSP’s and reload the program in like ten minutes and so that’s the iPad for Westminster. [Timestamp: 11:44]

All right. That’s always fun when you have one of those in the system and people realize all the things they can do from any vantage point in the house. Thanks for being here with us Kevin. Kevin Crow from AVE in the Twin Cities area and the sound upgrade at the Westminster Presbyterian Church and we’ll get into the video in part two. Thanks for being with us.

You’re very welcome.

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